How early can you wean a bottle calf?

Posted on  November 8, 2019, Edited by Victoria, Category  

In the past, dairy farms usually started weaning calves in about six months, with a total feeding capacity of 800-1000 kg. This excessive lactation and prolonged lactation period can achieve higher daily gain and weaning weight, but it not only consumes a large amount of milk and increases the cost, but also has adverse effects on the growth and development of calves' physique, body shape and digestive organs due to a large amount of milk.

And early weaned calves, the breastfeeding period is 2-3 months, feeding 300-500 kg. Early weaning is based on the characteristics of calf rumen development. By shortening the lactation period and reducing the feeding amount, calves are encouraged to feed ahead of time, to stimulate the rapid growth of rumen and accelerate the reproduction of microorganisms in the rumen, so that calves can rely on feed earlier than on milk alone.

Solve the problem of energy and protein sources. This not only enhances the digestive function of calves, improves the ability of tolerance to roughage, but also saves milk for calves, increases the supply of commodity milk, reduces the cost of feeding, and improves labor productivity. So many dairy farms began to implement early weaning. Here are the key points of weaning and feeding calves.


If you have the idea of weaning calves early, start weaning in about 46 days. At the same time, we should pay attention to these details: 1-3 days after birth, calves should be given full colostrum, feeding three times a day; calves themselves can not eat enough colostrum, must be artificially fed, and to feed early enough, otherwise, more than 12 hours will lose their function. From the 4th to 7th day, 3 kg of milk per day was fed four times; from the 8th to 15th day, 3-4 kg of milk per day was fed four times. From the 10th day, high quality and digestible calf concentrate supplement and hay or TMR diet were supplemented, a little less was added every day, keeping fresh and training feeding.

On the 16th-28th day, 3-4kg of normal milk was fed three times a day, supplemented with 0.5kg of diet; on the 29th-41th day, 2-3 kg of normal milk was fed twice a day, supplemented with 0.7kg of diet; on the 42nd-45th day, 2 kg of normal milk was fed once a day, supplemented with 0.8kg of diet; on the 46th day, weaned, supplemented with more than 1kg of diet. Weaning should be combined with time and feed intake, born more than 40 days, feed intake for 0.8kg three consecutive days can wean. Weaning and feeding can not be carried out at the same time, to avoid excessive stress.

Supplementary feeding of calves:

1.Supplementary feeding of concentrate.

When calves are 10 to 15 days old, they are fed with concentrate supplements. After feeding, they are daubed with a small amount of concentrate on their nose and lips, or sprinkled with a little concentrate on their milk barrel to allow them to eat. The calves are encouraged to form the habit of feeding concentrate. The calves are fed 250 to 300 grams a day at the age of one month and 500 to 700 grams at the age of two months.

2.Feed hay.

From one week old, high-quality hay (such as leguminous hay, etc.) was added to the straw shelf of the cattle pen to train calves to eat freely to promote rumen development and prevent foreign body licking.

Newborn dairy calves are mainly fed with liquid feed, but after starting to feed with solid feed, the calves' esophagus gradually loses function and begin to establish rumen bacteria. Generally speaking, calves can be fed with calf feed four days after birth, and eat less solid feed within two weeks after birth. Therefore, calves should be induced to eat calf feed at this time, which can increase the palatability of the feed by adding syrup and so on, and ensure the freshness of the feed. When feeding calf feed, it can increase calf's feed intake by providing sufficient drinking water.

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